Tuck’s Point Rotunda: Better On Land


To the Editor,

On July 27th the Manchester Select Board held a forum to discuss how to replace the rotting pilings beneath the Tucks Point pier.  Four options were presented (now reduced to three), all aimed at protecting the much-loved Rotunda from rising sea levels and storm surge flooding.  While each option will keep the existing 115’ stone and wood access pier in its present location, raised higher, there are more options for the Rotunda.  As follows, according to the engineering report (with preliminary cost estimates):

Option 1. The Rotunda remains in its current location and is raised five feet (to 19 feet) with new steel pilings - $2.25 million.

Option 2. Eliminated.

Option 3. The Rotunda moves up to the knoll at the beach, replaced by a new viewing jetty that could have the same shape and feel as the Rotunda - $1.75 million.

 Option 4. The Rotunda remains in its current location and is raised two feet now and an additional three feet in about 25 yrs. - $5.75 million. 

As long-time residents who love the Rotunda, when we heard about the report, we went out to Tuck’s Point to take a look for ourselves.  We discovered that Option 3, the knoll, and new jetty, has a lot to offer.  The Rotunda would sit at water’s edge with commanding views up and down the harbor, it would complement the Chowder House without blocking its views, and we’d get a new viewing deck in the familiar location.  Option 3 would be a lower cost choice in the short term that in the longer term offers a safer and more economical future for the iconic structure.   

The Rotunda is special.  Like a plucky friend who wades into the surf with pant legs pulled up and beckons us to join, the aging Rotunda has welcomed our picnics, weddings, prom photos, memorials, rites of passage, out of town visitors, romantic conversations, and many more occasions.  When we walk out onto its broad octagonal deck, its magical proportions transport us into another world. 

Yes, we like the Rotunda where it is and the Town has put a lot into preserving the superstructure.  We can all agree on that. But we ask ourselves, what’s the right decision for our time?  This is one of many choices the Town will make to prepare for changing weather along the coast.  In 1896, the harbor was a tidal mudflat with a channel down the middle, and people understandably wanted a view of the outer harbor.  Today, we have a gorgeous harbor full of boats lined by lovely homes in addition to views of the outer harbor – with adverse weather to plan for. We suspect that perched on the knoll, safe and still unique, our beloved Rotunda will remain ready for our special occasions in the decades to come.   

We know the sympathy is for keeping it in the water.  Let’s be sure we know what the Rotunda will actually look like when raised five feet (especially at low tides) and try to make a decision that doesn’t saddle future generations with costly maintenance, repairs, or even a move.  The Select Board has commissioned 3-D drawings of each option.  With these in hand, we encourage everyone to take a walk on-site to imagine how the Rotunda will look and feel, and to consider Option 3 with an open mind. 


Chuck Wisner

Kata Hull

Axel Magnuson

Anita Brewer-Siljeholm


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